Antlands The Antlands Series Book 1
by Genevieve Morrissey
Genre: Science Fiction
It seemed like a good idea… Genetically engineer a species of humanoid workers—strong, tireless, minimally intelligent—to become laborers for humans. What could possibly go wrong?
For a thousand years, humans have had to fight for their survival against the mute, feral “Ants,” created as workers but now gone rogue, scavenging and slaughtering everything in their path.
The beleaguered humans, in the meantime, have evolved two distinct cultures. The disciplined, insular Foresters prioritize safety over personal freedom in their woodland strongholds, while the more individualistic Men embrace an urban lifestyle and are eager to reimplement the technology of past ages. Nominally allies against the Ants, the two groups deeply mistrust each other.
Deer, a despondent Forester soldier, is one of his people’s foremost authorities on Ants. He knows with perfect certainty that Ant-raiders never leave survivors. So how, amid the carnage of a raided Man-village, is one small girl still alive? She says her name is Anne; but who is she, and what is her secret?
Deer takes Anne to the forest to grow up, where years later, a horrifying revelation about her may provide a means for Men and Forester to finally defeat the Ants—but only if they can put aside their differences and work together.
Full of unforgettable characters, masterful dialog, and riveting scenes, Antlands is ultimately a story of hope, healing, and redemption.
A sound outside the shuttered window: A footstep. An early rising neighbor? The woman sat up, and willed her heart to beat more softly so she could hear. No second step followed the first, and she had lain down again and drawn a breath of relief when the unmistakable metallic whisper of a knife being drawn from a sheath brought her bolt upright again. More footsteps, a grunt, and the jostle of one body against another, and then a sound like heavy raindrops pelting to earth. When a head is struck from a body the heart does not immediately know to stop pumping, and blood spurts from the severed neck in a gory fountain. The sound was that of great gouts of a watchman’s blood falling from the watchtower where the Ants had surprised him onto the ground below.
“Anne,” the woman whispered urgently, shaking the little girl awake. “Up, up!”
The child stumbled sleepily from the pallet. She knew instinctively not to speak.
Dragging the rough mattress aside, the woman felt for the hole dug in the earth beneath it.
Into her daughter’s ear she breathed softly, pushing her down into the cavity, “Here. Lie here: That’s right. Make yourself as small as you can.”
The child still clutched her doll. “Mama…” she whispered—just that one word.
Dawn was breaking at last—too late!—and mother and child could just see by it the gleam of one another’s eyes.
“Stay here, stay covered. No matter what happens, no matter what you hear, don’t move. All right? Not until you’re sure it’s safe.” But how would such a little one know? “I’ll come for you, if I can,” the woman whispered.
A glint other than her mother’s tear-bright eyes caught the little girl’s attention—that of the knife, a big one, in her mother’s hand.
The noises outside were growing louder and more frenzied. Gods! A child’s cry!
“Stay here, stay still; all right, Anne?”
The little girl nodded soberly.
A scrape at the door—
With a mother’s hungry eyes the woman devoured her child’s face one last time. “You must live,” she murmured, touching small Anne’s cheek. “You must try to live.”
The pallet in place again, the woman ran to the door and listened. She was waiting for the Ant outside to move away. She had already decided she must not be taken inside the hut. She must get out somehow, clear of the door, and then run and run as hard as she could, and at last, when she was caught—she knew she would be caught—she must fight. Every step she ran led the Ants further from her child; every Ant she tired by running was an Ant who would search the hut less carefully. And any Ant she killed was an Ant who wouldn’t kill Anne.
In one swift movement, the woman threw aside the bar to the door and burst out.
She made it as far as the clearing surrounding the watchtower, twenty steps or so from where her daughter lay shivering with fear, huddled in a hole in the ground with her doll in her arms. Eyes closed, the child kissed the doll’s face repeatedly, seeing in her mind as she did so her mother’s loved one—but she made not a sound. She was trying to live.
As she lay hugging her rag baby, an Ant whose feet were bare and who wore only the ragged remains of what had once been a roughly-sewn shirt caught her mother by her long hair and flung her to the ground, and her mother, making good on her promise to herself, sprang up again slashing wildly with her knife. She fought her attacker until another Ant, coming behind her, struck off her head with his great iron sword.
As soon as he had done so, both Ants immediately lost all interest in the woman. A dead Man was neither a threat nor plunder. As her body fell, Anne’s mother’s head rolled a little way, to the feet of another Ant. He kicked it casually aside.
The Antlands Series Book 2
Fleeing the last Ant-War, Anna of Evergreen goes with a party of Foresters, Men, and Ants to seek sanctuary on an island. None of them are ever seen again.
Twenty years later, the launch of the Muriel, the first steel-hulled, powered ship built since ancient times, offers Anna’s friends a chance to discover what happened to the lost colonists—if they can persuade River, the Muriel’s designer, to lead an expedition to find her. Exiled from the forest, estranged from his family, and crippled by rage and guilt, River agrees to the plan. Not only was Anna his first love, but the journey, he believes, will provide an exciting new distraction from his pain.
It’s the adventure of River’s life, but when the voyage proves longer and more perilous than anyone anticipated, he finds he’s brought all his old problems along with him on the journey—and in the middle of the ocean, there is no further place for him to run. The struggle to survive reveals River’s limitations, but also his strengths, and with this new self-knowledge, River reassesses his life. The Muriel may provide a whole new life-purpose for him—but is he up to the challenge?
The second book in the Antlands series, Annasland is an adventure novel that explores themes of prejudice and hate, love, loss and redemption in a post-apocalyptic setting.
Genevieve Morrissey is an avid student of British and American social history, but through one of those strange little quirks of fate she spends most of her days talking with scientists.
In Antlands, she explores a future history of societies coping with the loss of civilization, and their attempts to rebuild it.Together with coeditor Sarah Morrissey, Genevieve has previously published The Complete Raffles: Annotated and Illustrated.Genevieve enjoys reading obscure books, travel, good cooking, and solitude.
Leaving everything behind, Carrie Mullen, a young scientist, travels to the Central American country of Belize to study with Don Rodrigo, one of the last Mayan healers still practicing the old ways. At his side, Carrie learns the secret healing powers of plants, but when her aging mentor’s health starts to fail, she must move on. As her finances dwindle, she meets an expat tech millionaire who promises a chance to use what she’s learned. When he offers laboratory space to do research, she signs on.With the help of Don Rodrigo, Ronnie, an ex-soldier with PTSD, finds relief in an ancient ayahuasca tea ceremony as Carrie sets up a therapeutic haven. But instead of using her talents to benefit others, Carrie finds herself caught in a web of conflicting and dubious schemes.
As the jungle’s shadows deepened, heat lightning flickered across the sky. The only participants at the tea ceremony would be Ronnie, Mel and me. Not a large gathering. Julio suggested we add one more participant. Perhaps, Gabrielle, Mel’s girlfriend?
Mel shook his head. “Just the three of us will be fine,” he said.
Once the sun had set, we gathered in the gazebo. Julio placed us in a circle around the shelter. We were ready, and a ball of excitement filled my core. I was happy to see Don᷉a Luisa, the short, brown-skinned woman standing quietly next to my teacher. Her dark eyes looked out kindly from a face weathered by years of living.
As the moon rose, we watched Don Rodrigo roll the dry leaves of tobacco into a sphere. Before placing them in a pipe made from the root of the Ceiba tree, he sprinkled crushed herbs on top. When all was ready, be brought flame to the pipe bowl. The tobacco ritual was the first step in a cleansing that would continue through the night. As Don Rodrigo stood before Mel, a smell of tobacco mixed with the aromatic herbs hovered above us, drifting into the night air. Mel squirmed in his seat like a kid. Unfazed, Don Rodrigo brushed Mel’s eyes closed before exhaling the pungent mixture over his head, and shoulders. He went to Ronnie next, and as the billows of smoke wafted above him, the ex-soldier relaxed with a sigh. I was next. Breathing in deeply, the tobacco tickled my nose.
Don Rodrigo and Julio stepped outside to the open fire where the tea, made from plant essence, bubbled. The two men took turns stirring the vat of liquid. When it was ready, Don Rodrigo scooped out a dipper-full of the brew. Pouring the liquid from the dipper into a mug, he transferred the steaming brew from mug to dipper and back again, waiting for the beverage to cool. When all was ready, he divided the tea into small cups, one for each of us to drink.
Mel went first, gulping until the cup was empty. “Lentamente, go slow, go slow,” Don Rodrigo said. “Not so much.”
Ronnie did the same. When it was my turn, I sipped at the bitter mixture. Don Rodrigo stood beside me, waiting until I drained all the liquid in the cup.
In the dim candlelight, Julio took the center of the space and began a chant. Our eyes were alert and questioning, waiting for what would come next. As I listened, the words seemed to come from a distance, growing fainter and fainter. After some minutes, Ronnie sat up, a startled look on his face.
Suddenly, he ran out into the night. On his return a few minutes later, his expression was difficult to read.
It was Mel’s turn next. He bolted, running out into the darkness. We heard sounds of gagging in the warm jungle air. I was not surprised when my stomach began to churn, and soon I was lurching out into the night. Supporting myself against a tree, an internal spasm sent the contents of my stomach pitching onto the ground. More internal tremors followed. Once my stomach was empty, I allowed myself a few moments rest before I staggered back into the communal space. Once the purge was over, it was time to rest. Each of us had prepared pallets to make ourselves comfortable. Now we sought refuge in the cushions waiting for us.
As Julio turned in a circle, he called on each of the nine benevolent spirits by name. When the wind picked up it was as though they were heeding the call. Don᷉a Luisa began her song, repeating the phrases over and over, the sounds sweet and soothing, like a lullaby. Though the words were unknown to me, I seemed to grasp their meaning.
The night sounds of the jungle grew faint as Julio lowered the netting. We closed our eyes. The inward journey had begun. Like a leaf fluttering slowly to the ground, I drifted into a trance.
My thoughts turned to Don Rodrigo and his gift. I reached for it in my pocket. As I held it in my hand, the small stone fetish grew warm, seeming to vibrate. I heard a buzzing, as though a rattle was being shaken somewhere close by. As I shook my head to clear the sound, I fell into a space between sleep and wakefulness.
Strangely, I felt neither fear nor surprise as I saw myself at the edge of a lake, climbing on the back of a giant green toad. As the toad broke the water’s surface, we plunged together, through murky water, touching bottom. At that point, a reed drifted past. I grasped it and held it to my chest. Slowly the toad turned, swimming upward, breaking the surface of the water, then gliding to shore. I stepped onto dry land, but before the creature returned to its watery home, I felt a sense of trust pass between us. There were no words. The time passed slowly by.
It seemed hours, minutes, years were all one. I woke at dawn, stiff, cold and exhausted. Lifting my head from the pillow I sought out my fellow participants. Mel was still asleep while Ronnie sat silently, tears streaming down his face. Don Rodrigo slept soundly. Next to him, Don᷉a Luisa rested her head on his shoulder. I heard running water and saw Julio in the outdoor shower, his face turned upward to the water. When he felt me watching, he shook the water from his hair, letting his dark eyes rest on my face as he smiled. My face grew warm and the tug at my heart surprised me.
Lee Fishman arrived in Philadelphia as a college student, fell in love with city living and stayed. Even after traveling to Italy, Greece, France, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Turkey, England, Belize, Guatemala, Columbia and other beautiful countries she still can’t think of anywhere else she’d rather live. OK, maybe Paris.
Fascinated by ancient civilizations, Lee dreamed of being an archaeologist. As a student, she spent time at digs and worked in a lab piecing together pottery shards from the ancient ruins at Tikal. Many trips to Central America, rekindled her fascination with the Maya culture and inspired her to write The Shaman’s Gift.
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Megan Slayer will be awarding a Prize Pack Featuring a Necklace made by the Author to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
by Megan Slayer
Genre: Contemporary LGBTQ Erotic Romance
Three hearts can equal one great love…
Hera, the goddess of mothering and childbirth, wants more than to be Zeus’s throwaway partner. She wants a lover and a hot romance she can call her own, but she’s not sure she deserves to be happy. When she meets Crane in Vegas, all bets are off.
Crane Gray is a man of contradiction. On the stage, he’s a superstar, but at home, he’s alone. He wants love and Hera is the woman of his dreams. But Crane has unfinished business with John.
John has loved Crane for so long and only wants him to be happy. When he sees Crane with Hera, he knows what’s been missing between them and craves making Hera their third.
Can these three make a go of their relationship despite the glare of the spotlight or will a mistake from Hera’s past threaten their future?
“I’m Crane Gray and it’s nice to meet you—someone who doesn’t know me. I’ve got a concert here at the hotel tonight. I should be prepping for it, but I just don’t care and I want out of my life for a while. You fascinate me and I’m enjoying myself here in the bar. I’d like you to stay. Please?”
She debated what to do. Stay with Crane, the celebrity, or find someone a little more boring.
“Will you at least tell me your name?” he asked. “Have a drink with me?”
She liked him, despite his ability to drive her crazy. He was physically what she wanted in a man—blond hair, blue eyes, tall, handsome, and younger than her. Then again, most men were younger than her. She’d like to spend time with him because, honestly, this would be the only encounter. He could be that pure gold she’d been looking for.
“Honey?” He gave her space. “It’s just a drink.”
She could handle this. She’d ruined many a man, forced Echo to repeat the same words, turned individuals into monsters, and destroyed mortals. Having a drink with Crane was nothing. “Sure.”
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.
When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.